“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit on January 30, 2015 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Arab leaders agree joint military force

Yahoo – AFP, Haitham El-Tabei, 29 March 2015

(Front from L-R) Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kuwait Emir Sheikh 
Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Yemeni 
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir 
(middle-C) (AFP Photo/Mohamed Samaaha)

Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP) - Arab leaders agreed on Sunday to form a joint military force after a summit dominated by a Saudi-led offensive on Shiite rebels in Yemen and the threat from Islamist extremism.

Arab representatives will meet over the next month to study the creation of the force and present their findings to defence ministers within four months, according to the resolution adopted by the leaders.

"Assuming the great responsibility imposed by the great challenges facing our Arab nation and threatening its capabilities, the Arab leaders had decided to agree on the principle of a joint Arab military force," Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the summit in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The decision was mostly aimed at fighting jihadists who have overrun swathes of Iraq and Syria and secured a foothold in Libya, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said ahead of the summit.

On Sunday, Arabi told the meeting the region was threatened by a "destructive" force that threatened "ethnic and religious diversity", in an apparent reference to the Islamic State group.

"What is important is that today there is an important decision, in light of the tumult afflicting the Arab world," he said.

Egypt had pushed for the creation of the rapid response force to fight militants, and the matter gained urgency this week after Saudi Arabia and Arab allies launched air strikes on Huthi rebels in Yemen.

A handout picture made available by the Egyptian presidency shows Egyptian
 President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) speaking during a closed session with Arab
 leaders during the Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm 
El-Sheikh on March 28, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Arabi, reading a statement at the conclusion of the summit, said on Sunday the offensive would continue until the Huthis withdraw from regions they have overrun and surrender their weapons.

Several Arab states including Egypt are taking part in the military campaign, which Saudi King Salman said on Saturday would continue until the Yemeni people "enjoy security".

'Months to create'

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi at the start of the summit called for the offensive to end only when the Huthis "surrender", calling the rebel leader an Iranian "puppet".

However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to find a peaceful resolution in Yemen.

"It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," he said.

James Dorsey, a Middle East analyst with the Singapore-based S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said that despite support for a joint-Arab force, "it would still take months to create and then operate on an ad-hoc basis.

"I don't think we will get an integrated command anytime soon, as no Arab leader would cede control of any part of their army anytime soon," he said.

"Today we will have a formal declaration that would be negotiated every time during action."

Sisi said in a recent interview that the proposal for a joint force was welcomed especially by Jordan, which might take part alongside Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, spokesman of the Saudi-led coalition
 forces, speaks to the media next to a replica of a Tornado fighter jet (AFP
Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

Aaron Reese, deputy research director at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said "each of these countries would bring a different capability.

"The Jordanians are well known for their special forces capability... the Egyptians of course have the most manpower and bases close to Libya."

Before Egyptian air strikes in February targeting the IS in Libya, the United Arab Emirates, which shares Cairo's antipathy towards Islamists, had reportedly used Egyptian bases to launch its own air strikes there.

Cairo had sought UN backing for intervention in Libya, dismissing attempted peace talks between the rival governments in its violence-plagued North African neighbour as ineffective.

Asean peacekeeping force (JG Graphics/Josep Tri Ronggo)

Related Articles:

'Poo protest' topples British imperialist in South Africa

Yahoo – AFP, Lawrence Bartlett, 29 March 2015

A statue of British coloniser Cecil John Rhodes is covered in plastic bags as
 part of a protest by students and staff of the University of Cape Town (UCT)
on March 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)

Cape Town (AFP) - A bucketload of human excrement flung at a statue has toppled a symbol of British imperialism in South Africa, marking the emergence of a new generation of black protest against white oppression.

The senate of the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Friday bowed to student demands that a brooding bronze statue of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes should be removed from the campus.

UCT, the oldest university in South Africa and regularly ranked as the best on the continent, was built on land donated by Rhodes, a mining magnate who died in 1902.

A statue of British coloniser Cecil John
Rhodes is covered in plastic bags as part
of a protest by students and staff of the
University of Cape Town (UCT) on 
March 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)
Many of the students involved in the protests never lived under the injustices of white minority rule, but say they still experience racial discrimination 21 years after the end of apartheid.

The large statue of a notoriously racist Rhodes gazing across an Africa that he coveted for the British empire made them feel alienated on a campus still dominated by white staff, they said.

The "poo protest" was launched by a small group of students earlier this month, sparking a series of demonstrations demanding that the statue be torn down.

On Friday, the university senate voted 181 to one to remove the statue permanently from the campus, after vice-chancellor Max Price acknowledged "the many injustices of colonial conquest enacted under Rhodes' watch".

While the university council still has to endorse the move at a special meeting on April 8, the statue will be boarded up until it is handed over to government heritage authorities, university spokeswoman Pat Lucas said.

"It is certainly a victory for us," said student representative council president Ramabina Mahapa.

"It means we are being heard by the larger community."

A divisive history

But the disappearance of Rhodes is unlikely to end the debate on racial transformation launched by the protest, which gave rise to similar demands for change at two other universities.

In the east coast city of Durban, students at the University of KwaZulu Natal splattered white paint and anti-racism slogans on a statue of Britain's King George V.

Students and staff of the University of
Cape Town (UCT) protest against the
statue of British coloniser Cecil John
Rhodes at the university in Cape Town
on March 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger
And at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape, activists want the institution to be renamed.

The protests have also sparked lively debate among academics, historians, politicians and writers of letters to newspapers.

Much of the debate has been surprisingly calm and thoughtful in a country with such a divisive history, but a bitter edge of racism lurks beneath the surface in Nelson Mandela's "Rainbow Nation".

One white letter writer probably spoke for many when he suggested in the Cape Times that the student who threw the excrement at Rhodes should leave UCT and attend a university established by "his own ancestors".

But students have dismissed the argument that Rhodes should be honoured for donating land for the campus, saying he stole it from black Africans in the first place.

The discontent goes beyond symbols to cover admission policies and the racial make-up of the teaching staff.

Eusebius McKaiser, an author and commentator who attended Rhodes University and won a prestigious international Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, summed it up in an opinion piece in the New York Times.

"South African universities remain a testament to the country's colonial heritage in terms of what they teach, who does the teaching, and the morally odious symbols that haunt our campuses or lurk in their very names.

Students and staff of the University of 
Cape Town (UCT) shout slogans during
 a protest against the statue of British 
coloniser Cecil John Rhodes at the 
university in Cape Town on March 20, 
2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)
"At Rhodes, 83 percent of senior management staff remain white and 77 percent of 'professionally qualified staff,' a category that includes academic teaching staff, are white," he said.

Mandela legacy

Whites make up about eight percent of South Africa's population of some 54 million.

McKaiser, who is of mixed race, defended the fact that he accepted a Rhodes scholarship, telling a radio interviewer that in moral terms the colonialist's money belonged to "the millions of black South Africans whose rights were trampled on".

He took the scholarship to Oxford "so that I could come back and show the middle finger to his legacy," McKaiser said.

Since the end of apartheid the names of some cities and streets deemed offensive have been changed, but monuments to South Africa's racist white-minority rule remain scattered throughout the country.

Much of that can be attributed to the racial reconciliation policies of liberation hero Nelson Mandela, who became the country's first democratically-elected president in 1994.

Another former Rhodes scholar, Shaun Johnson, wrote in South Africa's Times newspaper of his surprise when Mandela agreed in 2002 to have his name coupled with that of Rhodes in a new charitable organisation.

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, of which Johnson is now executive director, provides post-graduate scholarships to young Africans.

Students and staff of the University of Cape Town (UCT) march on campus 
during a protest against the statue of British coloniser Cecil John Rhodes at
the university in Cape Town on March 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodger Bosch)

"Mandela told us to expect controversy and embrace it, while remaining certain in the knowledge that what we were actually doing was what mattered," Johnson wrote.

"He said... whenever possible, we had to put history to work for a better future."

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa echoed Mandela's approach in his response to the UCT protests.

"The government's attitude and policy to all heritage sites -- including statues of former imperialists like Cecil John Rhodes, among others -- is based on a national policy of reconciliation, nation-building and social cohesion," he said.

Related Article:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zambian Cabinet approves US$65.5mn loan from China

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-28

Zambia's president Edgar Lungu in an interview with Xinhua in
Lusaka, Zambia, March 25. (File photo/Xinhua)

The Zambian Cabinet has approved a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for the development of the country's Information and Communication Technology (ICT), a government spokesperson said in a statement Friday.

Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said in the brief statement that the Cabinet approved the contract of the loan during its meeting on March 25 which will go towards implementation of the Zambia National Information and Technology Development Project.

"The project is an important initiative to implement the country's ICT development planning which will help enhance the overall development of the ICT industry," he said.

The program involves the creation of a national data center as well as the construction of first-class ICT schools to greatly improve the current situation of ICT education in the country, he added.

Arab leaders meet to tackle Middle East radicalism, unrest

Leaders of the Arab League are meeting to discuss measures to deal with growing radicalism in the region and unrest in Yemen. Yemen's President Mansour Hadi has accused Iran of supporting Houthi rebels.

Deutsche Welle, 28 March 2015

Representatives of fourteen Arab countries met on Saturday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss solutions for growing radicalism in the region and unrest in Yemen.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in his opening remarks spoke of the spread of violent militancy, calling it a "challenge to the identity of the Arab nation" that compromised national security.

Pan-Arab force proposed

El-Sissi reiterated his proposal of creating a pan-Arab force to tackle militancy in the Middle East. "This force will be a tool to face challenges that threaten Arab national security … The future of this nation hinges on the decisions we will take at this crucial juncture," El-Sissi told leaders gathered in the Egyptian town.

Leaders at Sharm el-Sheikh were also planning to discuss "Islamic State" militants who have expanded heavily into Iraq and Syria. Kuwait's Emir Sabah al-Ahmed demanded a "new course of action" to tackle regional problems. "The situation is getting more complicated," he added.

Syria did not have any representation at the summit this year after a 2011 Arab League decision to suspend Damascus' membership to protest President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protestors.

'Peaceful solution' to Yemen conflict

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon referred to the Saudi Arabia-led military operation against Yemen's Houthi rebels and urged Arab leaders to resolve the Yemen conflict peacefully. "It is my fervent hope that at this Arab League summit, leaders will lay down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," Ban told guests at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi blamed Iran for unrest in his country, calling the Shiite Houthi rebels "Iran's puppet," and accusing them of destroying Yemen with their "political immaturity."

Tehran has denied all charges of intervening in Yemen, which has become politically volatile after rebels of the Shiite Houthi militia captured the capital Sanaa, forcing President Hadi to flee to his supporters in the port city of Aden.

mg/sb (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

Beijing to help Africa strengthen post-Ebola health system

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-28

Lin Songtian during a press conference, Oct. 31, 2014. (Photo/CNS)

China will help Africa with its public health system post-Ebola, said a Chinese official on Friday at a China-Africa health roundtable.

Lin Songtian, director of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's African Affairs Department, made the remarks at the three-day Fifth International Roundtable on China-Africa Health Collaboration held in Beijing, which will end Saturday.

Lin said China was studying the support it could offer Africa, adding China will help the African Union build a disease prevention and control center, which would link epidemic surveillance facilities in each member countries.

In terms of capacity building, Lin suggested that more scholarships could be granted to African health professionals and students for them to study in China, as well as more training offered to Chinese health aid workers dispatched to the African continent.

A policy recommendation on China-Africa health cooperation was put forward at the roundtable, which included suggestions such as the two sides should boost cooperation in medicine and vaccine production, diagnostics, health financing instruments, and enhanced dialogues and knowledge exchange.

Ren Minghui, director of the department of international cooperation of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said China had a unique role to play in supporting African health development as it was capable of producing high-quality and low-cost medicines and vaccines.

Related Articles:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chinese company fights for flamingos in Angola

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-27

Flamingos at a park in Nanchang, Jiangxi province,
March 27, 2003. (File photo/Xinhua)

A Chinese company is actively involved in preserving the wetlands of the southern harbor city of Lobito, Angola a key part of the migration route of flamingos from neighboring Namibia to Kenya.

Thousands upon thousands of flamingos can be seen on the wetlands during the peak time of migration though only hundreds of flamingos stopped by the wetland during the past week due to torrential rains, said Zhang Huaqiang, a project manager of China Harbor Engineering Company (China Harbor).

China Harbor, a key player in the reconstruction of harbors in the formerly war-torn African country, joined hands with local volunteers and governmental environmental protection organizations in safeguarding the wetlands, removed dustbins, and levelled the banks of the two lakes to provide a better environment for the migrating birds.

The Chinese company also organized on-spot awareness campaigns on wetlands to educate local residents and Chinese expats working in Lobito on the breeding, growth and habits of flamingos. The group also joined local volunteers to patrol the area to guard against poaching of the birds, which were a symbol of Lobito city.

Zhang said his company entered Angola in 2006 and constructed or rebuilt 16 harbors there, and the protection of flamingos and conservation of the wetlands in Lobito is part of his company's efforts to shoulder its social responsibilities and pay back to local societies.

China Harbor is not only actively involved in the post-war reconstruction process but also became a part of local society, and his company is willing to share the dividends of economic development with the local population, Zhang said.

China Harbor is now building a new oil tanker terminal in Lobito with an investment of US$120 million from the Angolan government. Before this, it reconstructed the container terminal and the terminal for bulk minerals at Lobito, 550 kilometers south of the capital city of Luanda.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

'No blacks' Chinese restaurant shut down in Kenya

Yahoo – AFP, 25 march 2015

The Chinese restaurant in Nairobi that has been shut down and its owners
summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, on
March 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

Nairobi (AFP) - A Chinese restaurant in the Kenyan capital Nairobi has been shut down and its owners summoned by authorities after it emerged it was barring black patrons, reports said Wednesday.

The restaurant became the focus of city authorities after furious residents took to social media to denounce an apparently racist policy of not allowing African patrons to eat there after 5pm -- pushing #RacistRestaurant, #NoBlacksHere and #TheChineseInvasion to be top trending topics.

The owners of the restaurant said the measure had been put in place following a robbery in 2013, and have apologised for causing any offence, the Daily Nation reported.

But it said the Chongquing Chinese restaurant, situated in Nairobi's bustling commercial and residential district of Kilimani, had been shut down anyway for not having the proper licences.

"We have established that the restaurant did not have the licences and I have ordered it closed until the management complies," Nairobi governor Evans Kidero said in a statement.

"The owners of the restaurant have no change of user from residential to commercial which is a requirement to operate a business in Nairobi," he said, adding the restaurant did not have a valid liquor licence and had failed to comply public health requirements on food handling.

"As of now the restaurant will remain closed until they comply with all set rules and regulations. We have deployed security officers around the premises."

The governor also asserted that "all business and service providers must ensure that all customers and clients are treated with respect and dignity, irrespective of race, colour, sex, tribe and religion," the Standard newspaper quoted him as saying.

Reports said the restaurant's Chinese owners and managers had also been summoned by Kenya's immigration authorities, while one Kenyan MP has also asked the Parliamentary Committee on Security to carry out its own investigation.

Attack fears

The Nation newspaper quoted a restaurant manager as saying the policy was aimed at keeping out thieves and members of Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affliated Shebab militants, who in 2013 massacred at least 67 people in Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall.

"We don't admit Africans that we don't know because you never know who is Al-Shebab and who isn't," restaurant relations manager Esther Zhao was quoted as saying.

"It is not like it is written on somebody's face that they are a thug armed with a gun," she said, adding the Chinese embassy in Nairobi had told Chinese businesses to be vigilant over the threat of attacks.

A city official however told the Star newspaper that the incident "has nothing to do with the friendship and diplomatic relations Kenya enjoys with China," a major investor in east Africa's biggest economy.

Although China's relationship with Kenya and much of Africa is seen as being at an all-time high -- notably with with huge investments in major infrastructure projects -- ties have also been overshadowed by China's massive demand for ivory, which wildlife campaigners say is decimating Africa's elephants.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Giant rats helping to sniff out tuberculosis in Mozambique

Kitten-sized rats are being used by scientists to detect tuberculosis-causing bacteria in a project which hopes to save both time and money

The Guardian, AFP, Tuesday 24 March 2015

A giant rat used to detect tuberculosis-causing bacteria at Apopo research
 centre in Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique. Photograph:
Adrien Barbier/AFP/Getty Images

Giant rats may strike fear and disgust into the hearts of homeowners worldwide, but researchers in Mozambique are improbably turning some of them into heroes.

At Eduardo Mondlane University in the capital Maputo, nine giant rats are busy at work – sniffing out tuberculosis-causing bacteria from rows of sputum samples.

These are no ordinary rats, as they have undergone six months of training in Tanzania. Their most distinguishing asset is their impeccable sense of smell.

Placed inside a glass cage, a rat darts from sample to sample, then stops or rubs its legs, indicating that a sample is infected with a TB causing bacteria.

Once the task is complete, it is given a treat through a syringe for a job well done.

“Within 30 minutes, the rat can test close to a hundred samples, which normally takes a laboratory technician four days,” said Emilio Valverde, TB program director at APOPO, the organisation leading the research.

The project, which started in February 2013, has brought hope to thousands of TB sufferers who sometimes receive false results and test negative using the standard laboratory system.

In 2006, tuberculosis was declared a national emergency in Mozambique, with 60,000 people in 2014 said to be infected, according to the ministry of health.

That number was a 10 percent increase from 2013.

Samples delivered to the university for testing are collected from 15 health centres across Maputo.

Belgian group APOPO is planning to expand the program to other parts of the country, while working on getting the system approved by the World Health Organization.

The organisation claims rat testing is more cost effective than other conventional methods.

Each rat costs around $6,700 to $8,000 to train, with a six-to-eight-year life span.

The cost is lower compared to rapid diagnostic test GeneXpert, which costs up to $17,000 per device, setting the state back between $10 and $17 per test.

They are light enough to cross terrain without triggering the mines, and are followed by de-mining experts who reward the rats with bananas.

The rats weigh up to 1.5 pounds and are said to be “easier to catch and train” – according to Valverde.

Samples pointed out by the rats to contain TB bacteria are then sent for further tests using fluorescence microscopy, a more sensitive laboratory technique.

The results are sent back to health centres, allowing patients to start treatment early.

Although TB is a treatable disease, in underdeveloped countries like Mozambique it can be deadly if left untreated and is particularly harmful to people living with HIV.

Mozambique is one of the countries worst affected by TB and 1 in 10 adults is HIV-positive.

With World Tuberculosis Day being marked on Tuesday, the Mozambican Ministry of Health said it was cautiously monitoring the APOPO work.

“This technique has to be compared to others that are available and already WHO approved, such as GeneXpert or LED microscope,” said Ivan Manhica, who heads the national programme for tuberculosis at the health ministry.

According to the WHO, TB killed 1.5 million people in 2013.

Monday, March 23, 2015

World's first academy for humanitarian relief to be launched

Humanitarian Leadership Academy to train aid workers from over 50 countries in organising rapid responses to disasters and emergencies

The Guardian, Julian Borger Diplomatic editor, Sunday 22 March 2015

Local residents receive humanitarian aid in the city of Debaltseve, Ukraine.
The world’s first academy for humanitarian relief will train aid workers in
responding to disasters and emergencies. Photograph: Sokolov Mikhail/
Sokolov Mikhail/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis

The world’s first academy for humanitarian relief is to be launched, aimed at training 100,000 aid workers from over 50 countries in organising rapid responses to disasters and emergencies.

The Humanitarian Leadership Academy, launching on Monday, is a response to the growing number of humanitarian crises around the world, driven by climate change and conflict, combined with a severe and worsening shortage of people with the skills necessary to coordinate the large-scale response required in the critical first days to prevent mass casualties.

The HLA is being set up by a global consortium of aid organisations with initial £20m funding from the UK Department for International Development, out of a target of £50m. The Save the Children charity has paid the startup costing and is hosting the academy’s hub in London.

Further centres will open in Kenya and the Philippines later this year, and by 2020 the plan is to have ten training centres around the world, which would offer both classroom and virtual training for the surrounding regions, in mobilising the rapid response in resources and manpower needed in the wake of a disaster.

Jan Egeland, a former UN head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, will be the academy’s first chairman. He said the initiative “may revolutionise the entire humanitarian sector”.

“Investment in a new and better trained generation of humanitarian workers closer to where we find the greatest needs will bring development and sustainability to many of the world’s most fragile communities,” Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said.

Last year witnessed a record number of severe global humanitarian emergencies and the highest number of refugees the world has seen since the second world war. 50 million people were forced to flee their countries.
Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said: “If we are to save more lives in some of the toughest places in the world we need to train and support local people themselves to become the humanitarian workers and volunteers of the future. The academy will do this by bringing together an extraordinary and unique coalition of actors to train and share best practice, transforming the humanitarian system.”

The idea behind the establishment of ten national and regional centres around the world is that each should be able to tailor responses to crises in terms of local conditions and local culture. Aid experts have said that previous attempts to increase local and regional capacity to react to large-scale emergencies have foundered because they were seen as impositions of practices developed far away.

The plan is for each centre to provide a common pool of knowledge, the latest technology and examples of best practice, as well as solid career structures for humanitarian workers, with internationally recognised certification for successive levels of achievement, recorded in ‘humanitarian passports’. The end result should be to expand the pool of people available in every region to manage the humanitarian response in the first 72 hours of an emergency.

“This is potentially one of the most transformational projects I have been involved in,” said Gareth Owen, Save the Children’s director of emergencies, who has been working on the academy project since 2007. “It is based on the recognition that many studies of humanitarian disasters and emergencies point to leadership and decision-making as the critical factor. Really by now we should have a global capacity that we can draw on that is far greater and more diverse. We haven’t invested enough in people on the ground.”

Owen said that climate change was adding to the relentless annual toll of humanitarian crises: “We used to have a big natural disaster about once a decade and that has come down to one every two or three years.”

Global funding for emergency relief has largely stagnated. Owen said the $20bn (£13bn) spending on the response to humanitarian emergencies is a third of the amount the world spends on yoghurt, for example, and that there is no comparison with the $1.5tn spent on arms.

“The Humanitarian Leadership Academy will help create a faster and more effective disaster response system by empowering local people in the most vulnerable countries to be the first responders after a disaster strikes,” Justine Greening, the secretary of state for international development, said. “The high quality training and expertise delivered by this academy will mean humanitarian responses not only provide immediate, life-saving relief, but also help build a more secure and resilient world.”

Related Article:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Egypt seeks death penalty for Muslim Brotherhood leader

An Egyptian court has condemned Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie and 13 other people to death for planning attacks on police and army institutions that were "aimed at sowing chaos."

Deutsche Welle, 17 March 2015

Egyptian policemen stand guard outside a court during the trial of
supporters of toppled president Mohamed Morsi

The group was accused of creating an "operations room" to organize strikes against the state after the army ousted former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

Mahmud Ghazlan, a former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as former provincial governors and other senior members of the organization were among those convicted, according to the Egyptian MENA news agency.

Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie and other top officials were found guilty of "plotting attacks aimed at sowing chaos," the agency said.

Although Giza Criminal Court published its decision on Monday, the formal ruling is set to be issued on April 11, after the country's grand mufti gives his opinion on the death sentence.
The mufti is consulted on all death penalty cases in Egypt, although his decision is not binding.

'Farcical' verdicts

Defense lawyer Ahmad Helmi called the verdicts "farcical" in an interview with AFP news agency.

Helmi said the verdicts were handed down even though the defense had not finished its closing arguments concerning five of the defendants.

In a separate case, a court in the northern city of Mansura also sentenced another eight Muslim Brotherhood members to death for organizing a "terror cell" and murdering their opponents, according to MENA. Their verdicts were also referred to the grand mufti.

Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters killed

After the regime change in 2013, authorities initiated a bloody crackdown against the Brotherhood and their supporters, jailing thousands. Hundreds of people lost their lives in clashes with security forces. The Muslim Brotherhood itself was declared a "terrorist organization" and outlawed.

Badie has already been sentenced to four life terms in separate cases, and was even convicted to death for incitement for violence, but the death sentence has since been overturned. Former president Morsi is also facing charges that are punishable by death.

dj/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Midwives at China-built hospital bring solace to Somali women

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-16

The Banadir Hospital. (Internet photo)

When China constructed the maternity wing of Somalia's biggest public referral hospital four decades ago, little did they know that this department would stand to be the source of hope for Somali mothers.

The dream of providing quality and affordable maternity services for Somali women did not stop there, as several Somalis flew to China to study various courses in the medical field in order to realize this dream.

Maryam Omar Salad, a midwife at Banadir Hospital, is among a number of medical practitioners who were trained in China and are now applying the knowledge they acquired in China to save lives in their own country.

"My trip to China to study midwifery for three years was transformative. I did not only return with the knowledge and skill but also with a more expanded world view," Salad told Xinhua in an interview at the hospital in Mogadishu.

"I got a good experience from China on best midwifery practices and I am able to apply them here for the betterment of our mothers and children," she added.

Salad, however, paints a rather gloomy picture of the state of the midwifery department which has been overstretched over the years, saying most of the only existing facilities were donated by the Chinese government some years ago and there has been no expansion despite increasing usage.

Ruqiya Jamac, midwifery department officer shares the same opinion. Having worked at the department for the last three decades, Jamac is part of the history of the hospital. She said lack of facilities and space is a matter of urgency in the hospital.

Congestion is another challenge. "Thirty women deliver in this hospital every day. Some cases are normal while others bear some complications," Salad said.

"We also have to deal with cultural issues since some women and their husbands don't allow us to carry out cesarean section. But we tell them the need and the importance especially when the lives of the mother and child are at risk," she added.

The story of the midwifery department transcends the difficult times in Somalia. "Even in the face of the war, we were still able to help mothers deliver their children," said Salad.

Sharifa Haji, a displaced mother whose sister is recuperating after delivery, said Banadir hospital is the only option she and her sister have.

"The services here are totally free and for us as displaced people, this means a lot," said Sharifa.

The midwifery department of Banadir Hospital has 5 doctors and 15 midwives who work on a 24-hour basis.

Chinese investment in Namibia grows to US$4.6bn

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-03-16

Ambassador Xin Shunkang, second left, attends the inauguration of an
aquaculture center funded by the Chinese government in Windhoek,
Namibia, November 2014. (File photo/Xinhua)

Namibia is home to more than 40 Chinese companies that are making about US$4.6 billion per year, Chinese ambassador to Namibia Xin Shunkang has said.

Xin said all the companies employ more than 6,000 Namibians.

He said currently, the value of investments by Chinese companies in Namibia is about US$3 billion.

China and Namibia signed the Reciprocal Investment and Protection Agreement in August 2005, while a Foreign Investment Act has yet to be brought before the Namibian parliament.

Xin said the embassy encourages Chinese companies to increase their investment, deepen cooperation with local companies, and employ more local people.

So far, he said the Chinese Embassy has been involved in skills development, taking various measures to help with skills development for Namibians, especially the youth.

Ambassador Xin mentioned workshops on health, management, agriculture and media as among those China has been involved in and where more than 100 Namibians took part.

He further said they also offer scholarships to Namibians through the Ministry of Education to study in China.

As part of skills transfer, China is involved in the construction of the Namibian Youth Training Centre at Grootfontein about 460 kilometres from the capital Windhoek.

In 2011 and 2012, Chinese investments in Namibia grew by US$179 million, while by the end of 2013, China's total investment in Namibia stood at US$3.9 billion.

Most of the investments are concentrated in the mining and manufacturing sectors.

Late last year, ambassador Xin in another interview said China was discussing the construction of a railway line between Tsumeb and the port harbour of Walvis Bay that was estimated to cost more than US$500 million.

"A Chinese company is in discussions with the Ministry of Works and Transport to build a railway (line) from Tsumeb to Walvis Bay. It will transport cargo and passengers. "The issue was how to raise the funds. The Ministry had the budget, but it could not release the funds on time. "However, the Chinese company said that was not an issue; they could provide the funds to start the construction, and the Namibian Government could repay at a later time," he was quoted saying then.

China was also considering building a modern highway for Namibia connecting Hosea Kutako International Airport with Katutura, Windhoek's sprawling township, to improve the local traffic infrastructure.

Ambassador Xin said this project was expected to cost more than 100 million U.S. dollars. "In China we have a saying: If you want to be rich, it's better to build a road. When people connect with each other, they acquire new ideas," he said.

According to Xin, the Chinese government was working on at least 10 new projects for Namibia, spanning various sectors such as transport, education and health. "In line with the Agreement on Bilateral Economic and Technological Cooperation, China provided Namibia with free aid of 29 million U.S. dollars in 2013 and 16 million dollars to date this year," the ambassador noted.

By far the most prominent milestone in Chinese investment came in the form of the joint venture between Chinese state-owned company China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) and Namibian state-owned mining company Epangelo Mining, with Epangelo' s acquisition of a stake in the Husab Uranium mine.

With CGNPC's total long-term investment of US$5 billion, Husab Mine will make Namibia the second largest uranium producer in the world, providing 2,000 permanent jobs and 4,000 temporary jobs while contributing at least 5 percent to the Namibian GDP growth.

Chinese companies are also planning to invest in maize and tobacco farming in the Zambezi region.

"The environment in Zambezi is very good and the land is fertile. The companies are now doing the preparatory work. Once the project starts, it will create jobs for 5,000 young people," the ambassador stated.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Egypt agrees $36.2 billion in investment deals

Yahoo – AFP, Mona Salem, 15 March 2015

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (C) gestures as he gives a speech
 at the end of the Egypt economic development conference at the congress
 hall in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 15, 2015 (AFP
 Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) (AFP) - Egypt has agreed $36.2 billion (34.5 billion euros) in investment deals, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said Sunday at the close of a three-day conference to kick start the economy.

The conference, which started with three Arab states pledging $12 billion in investments and aid, is seen by the government as a ringing endorsement of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his fight against Islamist militants.

"Direct investment contracts that were signed are worth $36.2 billion," Mahlab announced at the end of the conference in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He added that Egypt also undertook 18.6 billion in financed projects such as for a power plant that the country would repay.

Egypt also won $5.2 billion in loans from international institutions, he said.

"It is for us now to work and sweat," Mahlab said.

The deals include a record investment by British Petroleum and its Russian partner DEA of $12 billion in Egyptian gas fields on the West Nile Delta.

German conglomerate Siemens signed a four-billion-euro power deal with Egypt, a company spokesman said Saturday.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab speaks to the press at the Egypt 
Economic Development conference on March 13, 2015, in the Red Sea resort 
of Sharm el-Sheikh (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Egypt also announced it had signed memorandums of understanding with an United Arab Emirates company for the construction of a new administrative capital.

At a speech earlier on Sunday, an ebullient Sisi addressed a cheering audience at the conference, surrounded by a group of youths he had called up to the stage.

"Egypt needs no less than $200 or $300 billion for there to truly be hope for 90 million Egyptians," Sisi said.

He added that he wanted to host such a conference every year and invite other countries who are facing economic difficulties.

The beaming president also mentioned that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited him for a visit.

The remark underscored the acceptance he has won since overthrowing his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, then winning an election amid a broad crackdown on the opposition.

Bulwark against jihadists

Morsi's overthrow by then army chief Sisi unleashed the deadliest crackdown on the opposition in Egypt in decades, and left thousands in prisons.

Militants have conducted an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that killed scores of policemen and soldiers, and there have been regular small bombings in Cairo.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (C) gives a speech on stage on the last 
day of the Egypt economic development conference at the congress hall in the Red
Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on March 15, 2015 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

In Egypt, Sisi is popular among many who believe the country needs a tough leader, and he is staunchly backed by Gulf Arab states who despise Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement which has branches across the region.

Sisi has called for building a unified Arab force to fight the Islamic State group that has captured territory in Iraq and Syria, and which commands an affiliate in Egypt.

Cairo has already carried out air strikes against the jihadist group inside neighbouring Libya, where IS also appears to have gained a foothold.

Sisi, who has positioned himself as a bulwark against jihadists, had said investing in the Arab world's most populous country would help stabilise the entire region.

On the first day of the conference, attended by global political and business leaders, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates pledged $4 billion each in investment aid to Egypt.

Most of the funds will be invested in projects while $3 billion will be deposited in Egypt's Central Bank.

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